Egbert Vongmalaithong is a 2012 alum of VCU’s Sculpture and Extended Media Program. He works at VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art as the Assistant Curator of Commerce and Publications and has a practice in dance and writing. Current topics of interest include Jack Smith, economies, value, and language. His research involves challenging capitalist/normative expectations, most specifically in dance. He has recently exhibited/performed at Goodyear Arts (Charlotte, NC), Twoforty (Brooklyn, NY), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), and otherwise, is always dancing in his living room.
What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?
I’m learning, shaping my values, updating my gut health regimen, writing notes, writing poems, meeting new friends, watching YouTube videos, putting on bug spray, learning, sitting at the local bodega on my laptop, drinking cocktails with friends, waking up grumpy, waking up sad, waking up from inspiring dreams, walking, walking, walking, going to the beach, crying, looking at the moon, watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model on Hulu, going to my parent’s house, looking out a window, at my desk job, reading all the time, kissing someone, drinking water, on an airplane, looking at my phone, playing Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, paying an invoice, calculating the tip at a restaurant, walking, walking, walking, dancing, dancing, dancing a lot, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming
How do you define success?
Our world, culture, and human experience are always changing, so we should constantly be shaping and reshaping our values, learning, and savoring moments of rarity. I choose to not define success.
How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?
I can give a really specific anecdote… I wrote this essay on trash (in response to capital) in my Queer Cinema class titled Wiggling Filth Between my Toes. I revisited this paper, and the intro, which includes an epigraph of a Jack Smith quote, sparked the language for a new business plan that I’m writing for work.
This is the quote: “In the middle of the city should be a repository of objects that people don’t want anymore, which they would take to this giant junkyard… This center of unused objects would become a center of intellectual activity. Things would grow up around it.”
What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?
Don’t expect yourself to always have answers. Ask questions all the time. Be caring. Open vulnerability is courageous. Do your research. Honor and dive into gray areas. Download astrology apps.
Here are some reading recommendations: Breathing Chaos and Poetry by Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today by TJ Demos, PRECOG Vol 4: Empires and Vampires, The Will to Change by Bell Hooks, and On Value by Ralph Lemon. Also google Gordon Hall’s 2016 commencement speech to Parsons.